The gym can be one of the most nerve-racking places to go to for the first time. When they’re unfamiliar, machines look like they were built for torture rather than muscle building. It’s busy, it’s sweaty, it can be noisy. On the whole, that first time has the potential to be overwhelming.
It’s hard to imagine our favourite ambassadors stepping into the gym for the very first time. But they all had a first time, and they’re very relatable. Young, clueless, scared and overwhelmed. But look at them now.
With an Instagram handle like @mattdoesfitness it’s easy to assume Matt was curling 10kg on each arm before he learned to walk. Obviously this wasn’t the case – and it’s actually far from it.
At 15 years old Matt braved the gym for the first time with two friends from school for moral support. And while he’d been messing around with a few dumbbells in his bedroom, he had pretty much zero knowledge about fitness or the gym.
As is the case when you have little knowledge of the gym or even any exercises you might complete – bench press will always come to mind.
You’ll have seen someone on TV doing it, the person next to you might be doing it and it looks like a pretty easy exercise to complete as a beginner – or so Matt thought.
He set himself up on a bench with a barbell, and luckily didn’t decide to rack it full of weights for his first time. And it was a good job.
With no prior bench experience, Matt knew nothing about how to stablilise his body and was also experiencing a severe case of jelly arms as he tried to push the weight off his chest to complete a rep. In other words, it didn’t go exactly to plan.
After entering the gym with such high hopes and feeling as though he failed after his first exercise, Matt was embarrassed. He also felt as though everyone around him had watched him and was laughing at him. And while we weren’t there, we know this won’t have been the case.
Anyway, fast forward 20 years and Matt is successfully bench pressing 185kg, and has some pretty impressive squat and deadlift PBs to his name. He didn’t give up despite the ‘shambles’ that he described his first time as being.
Bodybuilder and avid weight-trainer Marino Katsouris has been known to share his workouts, recipes and everything in between with his whopping 1.8 million Instagram followers.
His physique hasn’t always looked quite the same, and as a teenager he actually struggled to put on muscle and found himself getting knocked down by the bigger boys on the rugby pitch.
At 16 years old, after seeing a fitness magazine and being struck by motivation, Marino headed to the gym for the first time. Looking back he’d describe his first time as ‘embarrassing’ being unable to lift the smallest of weights above his head. He could only dream of benching a barbell.
After time adjusting to the new environment, learning that the people around him weren’t interested in what he was doing, he adapted to the fitness sphere. However, it wasn’t until properly learning about nutrition that he began to build muscle and put on weight.
From the experience Marino learned that fear isn’t a reason to quit. If he quit the gym at 16 after his first ‘embarrassing’ session then he wouldn’t be where he is now. And for that he is grateful.
After spending her childhood swimming competitively, Lucy was no stranger to fitness and pushing her body to its limits. She was a stranger to the gym, though.
At 18/19 Lucy decided it was time to brave the gym for the first time. But this didn’t come without nerves.
She felt out of place in a gym environment — as a female and with little clue as to what she was doing. However, a trip to the weights section soon eased those nerves.
She quickly realised the gym isn’t all that scary a place and, believe it or not, the PTs are there to help — if you’re brave enough to ask for help.
Years later and Lucy has completed a Hydrox competition, a 100km ultra-marathon and a bench press competition, with much more in the pipeline.
Take home message
If you’ve learned anything from this article I hope it’s that everyone has a first time in the gym — sometimes it’s embarrassing, other times it’s nothing to write home about. But a lot of the time it’s natural to have nerves when making a change. But putting your health, fitness and wellness first shouldn’t be feared, it should be embraced.
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